Cervical spondylotic myelopathy is a very big term to describe damage to your spinal cord in your neck. It affects the spinal cord fibers that transmit impulses to your legs, arms, and hands. When that impulses aren’t transmitting as they should, it may cause weakness, numbness, tingling or pain in those parts of your body. When these types of symptoms occur, a visit to an experienced physician like NYC Spine Surgeon Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City is recommended.
What does it feel like?
The symptoms depend on the area(s) of the spinal cord that are damaged. Symptoms may also change over time, progressing rapidly but then leveling off, or progressing slowly and steadily. Possible symptoms of cervical spondylotic myelopathy are hand numbness, arm or hand weakness, leg stiffness, difficult balancing, or urinary urgency. Surprisingly, neck pain is a less common complaint.
Who gets it?
Spondylosis means age-related degeneration, so cervical spondylotic myelopathy affects people over age 55. In fact, it is the most common spinal disorder in this age group. Degenerative conditions of the cervical spine may include bone spurs, bulging discs, or thickened ligaments. These conditions can cause the spinal canal to narrow, which can compress the spinal cord and its delicate fibers.
How does the doctor diagnose it?
Diagnosing cervical spondylotic myelopathy can be tricky because its symptoms are similar to other conditions. Dr. Fischer at NYU Langone Medical Center is experienced in diagnosing and treating this disorder. After taking patient history and performing a thorough examination, diagnostic procedures will be performed to pinpoint the exact problem. Common tests include a post-myelography computed tomography (myelo-CT) or an MRI scan.
What can be done about it?
The main goal of treating cervical spondylotic myelopathy is alleviating pressure from the spinal cord. Surgery is performed to prevent symptoms from worsening. Each patient’s prognosis differs because even though spinal cord damage can heal, the degree of healing can’t be predicted. The specific procedure will be determined by Dr. Fischer based on the type and location of damage, overall condition of the cervical spine, and other factors. Surgery may be approached from the front or back of the neck, and a combination of procedures may be appropriate. Dr. Fischer will discuss the recommended treatment plan specific to your condition, and you can decide together how to proceed with your treatment. The goal is to restore your comfort and mobility, and Dr. Fischer is qualified to help you do just that.